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Regents Signal Desire to Keep UC in Charge of Weapons Lab

September 21, 2006|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

University of California regents indicated Wednesday that they hoped to retain UC's long-standing management of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, giving initial approval for the university to enter the first competition to run the nuclear weapons center.

The unanimous voice vote by a regents committee is expected to be endorsed by the full board today at its meeting in San Francisco.

The preliminary approval came nine months after UC won a hard-fought battle to keep its historic role in managing the Livermore lab's sister nuclear weapons facility, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. A team led by UC and Bechtel National, a unit of engineering giant Bechtel Group, beat back a rival bid for the Los Alamos contract by a group led by Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas.

If the current proposal is approved by the full board, UC will be joined again in its Livermore bid by Bechtel, with other possible partners to be announced later, UC officials said.

UC had managed both Livermore and Los Alamos on no-bid contracts for the federal government for more than six decades. But after repeated safety and security lapses at Los Alamos in recent years, the Energy Department decided to open both contracts to competition.

Bids are due to the Energy Department by Oct. 12, with a winner to be chosen by next March, officials said.

rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

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